We bring out the tub, and immediately, the dogs who otherwise love water, run the other direction! The end result is happy dogs, hair to rake up, and sore owners!
I have had several new canine mothers with mastitis. For many years, the only thing I could do was apply ice packs or heat packs to give her relief, waiting for antibiotics to work. One day, I found another source of help…
Seven years ago my youngest daughter had her first baby. A few days later she had so much breast engorged that she was in agony. We’re talking skin splitting hard and swollen. She had a reasonable amount if redness. I was worried she was quickly progressing to mastitis. She was pale and crying. We had tried warm compresses and cool. Nothing helped. Her daughter could hardly latch, let alone nurse well, because of the intense engorgement. I couldn’t convince her to seek medical help, her husband felt helpless too. She was in so much pain, we *all* felt helpless. She wanted to wait until the next day to seek medical attention.
I had read that cabbage leaves help with engorgement and early mastitis. Now, I am an old ER Nurse, and I am mighty fond of traditional medicine, and skeptical of various home remedies, and respectfully cautious of others. Some is pure bunk, and some work, even to a dangerous degree if a patient doesn’t disclose that they’re using them. So, I was skeptical at best. BUT, I suggested her husband go buy a cabbage. I challenged her (as a Physician’s Assistant, she was more than skeptical too), saying it surely couldn’t hurt anything, and figured it would give us a good laugh later for having tried. She dutifully packed some in her bra and went upstairs in tears of agony (literally) to lie down. One hour later, she nearly skipped into the room! “I’m SO much better!!”. Her previously pale complexion was pink, and that look of agony gone from her face! Her tissue was far more relaxed, no longer red, and the baby was finally able to nurse. I was astounded, as was everyone else. No placebo affect here, as nobody thought it would help at all.
So, medical opinion is mixed, as to it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Some Dr’s advise it. Some say it is bunk. An extract of cabbage in ointment form was tested, and had no positive effects. It seems to only work in leaf form. Cold, room temp or cooked doesn’t seem to make a difference (but I am sure cool feels good on that painful area). Some sources caution that it should only be applied 20 min/3 times per day, or milk production is affected.
So, when I had a litter following the episode with my daughter, and my girl got an early mastitis, I quickly turned to cabbage, and kept puppies working at keeping the milk flowing (thinking the next morning I would have her at the vet for antibiotics). She had a slight temp, was swollen, red, restless (pain) and very engorged. The next morning, she was resolved. Now, maybe she would have been regardless, but I can only report what happened. I will say, that no home treatment should ever replace proper medical treatment As I said, my bitch was scheduled to go the the vet the next morning, however, she completely resolved.
My daughter (a PA in the Army) Responds:
“Trust me… this is something you should absolutely believe without hesitance. I had frozen a wet towel and stuffed that in my bra… it did nothing but wet my shirt and bra and heat up VERY quickly. The leaves had an IMMEDIATE effect. The first thing I noticed was the intense cool and an almost immediate decrease in the pulling of my skin. I was so uncomfortable, I’d been pulling my shoulders up to my ears and I was finally able to relax them (along with the rest of me). It didn’t take long to warm up the chilled cabbage leaves, but they still felt amazing.
Just try it when you have a bitch (or woman) who needs it. Some women say it doesn’t work for them, but I’m telling you, NOTHING else worked for me and it was more miserable than the birth itself. At least I thought so at the time. This was the ONLY thing that gave me any relief.”
Preventing and recognizing mastitis in dogs
Check her mammary glands twice daily:
- Trim puppy nails frequently. Sharp nails cause breaks in the skin. Clean scratches with a mild soap and water, and be sure to rinse well and dry the area.
- Observe that your bitch does not have a preferred side to lay on. This causes inconsistent use of each teat. Rotate her in the box to be sure she’s swapping sides she lies on.
- Close observation of her mammary glands.
- Keep fur around mammary glands trimmed in long-hair breeds.
- Take a rectal temperature morning and evening.
- Seek veterinary care for any signs of mastitis. These infections get worse very rapidly.
Observe for the following (remember, mastitis is a bacterial infection):
- Mammary glands lumpy
- Mammary glands painful to touch
- Mammary glands that are unusually warm or hot to the touch
- Mammary glands with red, bruised, or purplish-blue areas
- Reluctant to nurse puppies
- Discolored milk or blood in the milk
Snow is on the ground, and our increasing temperatures have turned walkways into ice. Every day, one or two of the dogs come in and get undivided attention. Today was Miley’s turn. Last week I noticed she was getting pretty dirty, as the snow starts to melt and mud season is starting, Miley, being yellow, is the first to show the effects of a wet winter thaw (her yellow daughter will likely be next). Miley also takes great pleasure in rubbing her body on the chain link in her kennel, transferring black carbon onto her coat. It’s nearly impossible to wash out, but seems quite easy to rub into the coat. I couldn’t take it one more moment. Today we’ll be having a winter spa day!
Miley, we’re off to the bathtub!
Our booster bath tubs are a Godsend. Yay for not having to bend to ground level to wash a dog! We can move it close to the large kennel door, and put the drain hose under the closed door, allowing it to drain outside, while keeping the kennel fairly dry and warm (except for the obligatory wet dog shaking, which manages to wet a six-foot circumference). She was so dirty, we couldn’t even work up suds with a ton of shampoo.
No doubt someone is going to ask what doggie shampoo we use, so this is where I tell you to listen to your Vet if you want to be sure, but in truth, we use human shampoos. I use baby shampoo on the face (no tears), and whatever shampoo I happen to have laying around on the rest of them. I DO NOT ever use a conditioning shampoo or a conditioner on a Lab. Their coat is supposed to be hard to the touch to properly shed water. When I am shampooing for a dog show, I do it a week or so before the show if they need a bath at all, and I usually use T-Gel shampoo on the blacks, to get rid of dandruff. If a Lab isn’t visibly dirty, the best bath for a show is just a good swim or hosing down. Yay for a wash-and-wear breed!
Bath time is an important time for us. You would be surprised how even while petting and playing with a dog, you can miss a suspicious lump or a cut. We’ve made it a practice to use bath time to do a critical hands-on exam, to physically go over each dog, feeling every inch of their bodies for any physical anomaly that may have come up. Once wet, and underneath that thick coat, we have found things our hands never detected before. It’s a good practice. All Miley had was that healing scratch under her left eye (she scratched her eye a couple of weeks ago and lost the hair around the scratch), and the scars on her chin that she has had for a long time (that’s another story for another day).
Our industrial blow dryer makes fast work of drying a dog, and quickly gets rid of shedding hair. It’s far better than a brush! I’ve had this dryer for better than 15 years. It is one of our most valuable possessions. Her groaning in response to being dried, spoke to how good that forceful/warm air stream feels.
As I type this, Dan is still out in the kennel trying to clean up the fur it blew off Miley, onto every surface of the kennel building. That’s one downside to winter baths – you can’t blow dry the dog out in the snow.
After a lot of soap, rinsing and drying, a nicely clean Miley ran to the back door and thought briefly about rolling in the mud next to the steps. I caught her just as she was headed for it and a firm “NO” stopped her (thank heavens). What is it about being clean that a dog can’t stand? It never fails that a sparkling clean dog will quickly roll across the lawn, in the bushes, in mud, or in a puddle.
Attention to the feet comes after the bath. Hair on the bottom of their feet probably keeps their feet warm in the snow, but when the paths turn to ice, their hairy feet have little traction ability. Skipping in the ice or wood floors is an invitation to injury. It has become habit, that after a bath, we check feet and nails. As you can tell, Miley was WAY overdue!
Now she can show off. There is nothing like the feeling of having a shower and pedicure!
The dog bath is found at: https://www.boosterbath.com/
The blow dryer may be found here: https://k9dryer.com/product/k-9-ii-dog-dryer/ – shop around for better pricing on similar items.
In North Idaho, Fall means one thing… Winter is coming!
Our days are filled with getting the dogs ready for cold/bitter days. We do that, by first getting about five cords of wood cut and stacked. Our indoor kennel includes a large wood-burning stove. The cement floors are cold during winter, so as soon as the snow flies, each indoor kennel will be filled with wood shavings. Their water is indoors, so freezing is not an issue. We’re stocking up with wood shavings now. We also have two large electric heaters hanging from the ceiling on the kennel. Often we find that the dogs feel too warm during the winter, and go outside to lay on the frozen cement in their outdoor runs! Labradors love the cold.
We found our first year here, that the dogs love to lie on the snow, but it causes them to burn calories quickly. This is the time of year we start to increase their food, putting a little more weight on them, so that they go through the winter without losing weight.
So, while the dogs are soaking up the beautiful fall sunshine, and growing their winter coats, we are busy thinking winter, and preparing the dogs and kennel for it!
Enjoy this fall image from the area that I took a few days ago. It’s beautiful here in the fall:
We have been asked how we decide on homes for the dogs we place. The answer is simple. We believe the right home exists for every dog, and the right dog exists for every responsible person, but not all dogs and people are right for each other. It is our responsibility to select wisely, and that is where experience and God come in. I trust that we will be sent people we need to speak to, but that doesn’t mean I’m being sent people who need a dog! My husband tells me I spend more time talking people out of a dog than into a dog. I think he’s right!
We have been blessed with some of the best placements we could have prayed for, and the reason, is that we ask hard questions, make hard observations, and critically evaluate the dogs in question. I can not count the number of calls I have received from prior placements, telling me that the dog died of old age, that it was treasured, and provided a family with a life filled with love. At that point we know we are blessed. We have had families who, in 38 years in this, have as many as three dogs from us pass away well in their senior years. My heart is full when I hear their stories, even if through grief.
Our placement decisions are a sacred duty!
“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.”
Dogs can tell you a lot about people. We watch people and dogs together. Nothing is set in stone until an animal demonstrates to me that these are the people for them!
“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”
We’re responsible for those things that are precious to their creator!
We love these creatures we have been trusted with, and we are tasked to be sure the arms we place them in will care for and love them. That is our criteria.
DON’T RUN WITH STICKS IN YOUR MOUTH!!!
Luna demonstrated this month, how a dog can impale themselves on a stick. For now, that’s what we think happened. She showed up in the morning with facial swelling, and the Vet found a puncture wound in the back of her mouth where the muzzle meets the upper jaw, behind the last pre-molar. It’s still possible that this is really a tooth root abscess, but the wound he found was bloody (not pus filled), and pretty large. It seems that she punctured it with a stick (that we never found). Antibiotics have taken care of it… thankfully! Picture three is two days after antibiotics. This shows you how fast it can happen, and, with treatment, how fast it can heal.
The snow has melted, and we’re well into spring activities. Rose is healing well. She has had it with months of rest. As a puppy, all she wants to do is play and run. But, her exercise is quite limited and always monitored for another few weeks. As you can see, she puts good weight on the knee. We’re still dealing with a bit of tendonitis in that hock, but it should work out with time and more movement with exercise.
Today is the big day! Rose had her 6 week checkup. She had an x-ray, which her surgeon states looks good. Her healing is normal. I discussed with him the lateral wobble of her knee, and he believes it may be a little tendonitis. She may now have three 15 minute walks/day. As stated previously, she is increasingly difficult to entertain. She is inventing ways to chew up anything that is stationary in her box. She wants to play with her sister so very badly. It will be a very long time until she is allowed to do that.
This is Rose waiting to see her vet.
Rose continues to improve. I am noticing a lateral rotation to her knee when she walks. I suspect it has to do with muscle atrophy. She is so tired of the inactivity. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to entertain her. Every so often I cheat and put her on the flexi leash to let her move out a bit without running or jumping (which she is not permitted to do).
We’re at the beginning of week four. This has been the week that marks Rose’s breaking point. She is so done with inactivity. We’ve bought chew toys, chew bones, real bones, distraction toys… you name it. Her attention span is almost nil. She has decided to take her frustration out on the carpet she is on, chewing the corner nicely. We take Rose everywhere we go, so as to give her new things to look at, people to see, and so that we can monitor her activities. She has been increased to one 10 minute slow walk each day, which she loves. She continues to put more weight on the affected leg. This was taken on a trip to set up 6000 Easter eggs stuffed with candy for local children.
Happy Easter, everyone!